Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vacation Recap: Dry Counties, Sea Turtles, and Cruise Ship Toilet Paper

The vacation is over. Back to the land of snow and ice. Brrrr! I love it.

We drove all the way down to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where our ship departed. Our intention was to spend a few days traveling around Florida after the cruise to see if there were any nice places we would like to visit on an annual basis. We didn’t come up with much (now don't get me wrong Floridians. We love your state. We just didn't find anything on this trip. Whew!).

On our drive down, our first hotel was in a dry county in Kentucky. I didn’t think there were anymore of those. The residents that I met were surprisingly friendly and happy. I know if I lived there, after a few days I’d be so ornery I’d bite the head off of a Kentucky rattlesnake.

In two more nights we were in Florida. A real highlight here was the Florida Turnpike. We missed a toll gate and ended up in the Sunpass lane. This is reserved for those who have paid for a transponder that allows you to zoom by the toll booths. Inexplicably, this particular toll area had a barricade between the Sunpass lanes and the ones where you could use cash. So here we were, stopped on the shoulder, trying to figure out how to get back to the cash lanes and avoid the posted $100 fine.

We had an inspired idea. We tried going backward on the shoulder for several hundred feet while traffic whizzed by us at 70 miles per hour. A Florida State Trooper was on the opposite shoulder of the road, busy giving a ticket to someone else. She saw us.

WEEEEOOOOOOO BEEEEEP BEEEEEP, came the noise from the cruiser.
"MOVE IT!" yelled the trooper.
"I'm trying to get back to the pay lanes," I explained.
"MOVE IT!!!" she reiterated.
"You don't understand. I'm the chief contributing writer and editor for Snow Shoveling In Canada. Perhaps you've heard of it?"

I didn't really say this, because I don't like to unduly use my considerable influence and notoriety to my advantage. Instead, we hightailed it out of there, and ended up mailing our toll fare to the fine people at Sunpass.

I couldn’t imagine this trip being more fun than what we had experienced so far, but we were so excited now because our very first cruise was only a couple of days away.

Our ship was the Emerald Princess. This is a BIG boat. While standing on one of the upper decks, I saw a large freighter steaming passed us. From my vantage point, it looked like a dinghy.

Our stateroom had the latest in security — you know, a peephole to see who is on the other side of the door. The peephole even had one of those fancy slide-away covers. But the image provided by this privacy protecting peek portal was so blurry, that you couldn’t possibly make out who was on the other side. It could be a thief, a murderer, or some super villain  —  the evil Dr. Blur (this could be a job for the amazing Gar-Gar).

Our itinerary took us to Bahamas, St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, and St. Kitts. We enjoyed an excursion at each stop.

The best of the excursions was a stair climbing adventure in St. Lucia. This activity was very strenuous and exciting. The rainforest views were as breathtaking as the steep stairs themselves. To get from one stairway to the next, we were hooked onto a steel cable with some rope and pulley contraption, and then we would use these ”zip-lines” to continue on to the next climb.

Another of the better shore excursion was a wild sea turtle encounter in Barbados. We were told that we could lightly touch the shells of the turtles as they swam by. These were large turtles; about the size of a bean bag chair, but less comfortable to sit on, I imagine.

A particularly sizable specimen came swimming straight for my nether regions. I was wearing my swimming trunks so I don’t think that he was mistaking my Johnson for some of the chum that the tour guides were tossing into the water to attract the beasts. Nevertheless, here he was, coming full speed ahead. I swam up a couple of feet and spread my legs apart as far as I could. An Olympic gymnast would have been impressed. I thus avoiding having the face of a sea turtle permanently branded on my groin area.

There was one Einstein on our excursion who decided he would grab onto the sides of the turtle’s shell and ride it à la some Orca trainer at Sea World. This was after we were specifically told NOT to grab onto the turtles. I was hoping that his hands would somehow get caught in the shell while the turtle dragged him to Galapagos Island.

Another fun trip took us to Bird Island in Antigua where we never saw as much as a common sparrow. But we did get to enjoy a nice catamaran ride on some choppy water. Now imagine if you will a 58-year-old Canadian on a tottering catamaran after downing a few rum punches and deciding it would be a good idea to enter a limbo contest. Not only did yours truly do just that, but I actually won! My prize was a bottle of coconut rum and a herniated lumbar disc.

The food on the cruise was good for the most part, but the orange juice was unexpectedly bad. It tasted like it was made from fresh squeezed Canadian oranges. Let’s put it this way, even Tang-hardened astronauts would likely refuse to take a swig of this breakfast drink.

The swimming pools and hot tubs were nice. The hot tub had a warning stating that those with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or low blood pressure should avoid using them. As well, you should stay out if you were under the influence of alcohol, antihistamines, anticoagulants, immunosuppressants, vasoconstrictors, vasodilators, hypnotics, stimulants, narcotics, or tranquilizers. This list should prohibit anyone over the age of 35 from using the tub (which would easily include everyone on the ship).

I saw some of the most out-of-shape human beings I’ve ever seen in these whirlpools. As they lay there for half an hour, looking like giant slugs, I was thinking that they must be violating at least a full two-thirds of these rules.

You know, you would think that after 58 years on this planet that I would be worldly enough to know just about everything. But there were these metal covers over the toilet paper rolls in the washrooms and I’m still not sure what they are for.

Splash Guard? Paper Ripper? Patented Roll-Stay-Fresh® Technology?

I initially thought they were used to help tear off some sheets of toilet paper. But that would be overkill. We’re not tearing off sheets of titanium foil here. Then I thought I had it figured out. These are guards to protect the paper from splashing (from men who can’t aim or have an erratic stream). However, my wife informed me that the same covers are on the rolls in the women’s washrooms as well. Perhaps they’re just used to keep the paper fresh. In order to wipe this question from our minds, we’ll have to get our crack investigating team here at SSIC to get to the bottom of it. I’m sure the Internet is flush with information regarding this.

Finally, one night late into our cruise, I entered a Motown music trivia contest that I technically won. The prize was a bottle of wine which went to another contestant who missed one question. I also had missed one. However, she was given credit for identifying a Four Tops song as “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch”. Although that’s not wrong, it isn’t completely right either. The assistant cruise director said in no uncertain terms that my answer was wrong. I said the song is titled “I Can’t Help Myself”. I insisted that I was right. She insisted otherwise and said that I should “Google" it. I did.

If you’re reading this, little miss assistant cruise director, you owe me a bottle of wine.


  1. Doesn't that metal shield for the toilet paper rest on top of the roll to add some friction so when the user leaves a LONG tail hanging down, it doesn't unwind itself onto the ever_so_icky floor?

    1. Mystery of metal cover on toilet paper roll unraveled? Perhaps. And, if you're explanation is correct, a great service is rendered by this device as it lessens the possibility of people walking out of a restroom with a bathroom banner stuck to their shoes.

  2. Hey G. Thomas Boston, CEO of SSIC, I am back to haunt you. Why can I not subscribe to your blog with email? I don't like the feed option. (loosely translated I actually don't understand the feed thing :)). If you could get a lackey from the bottom of the hierarchy at SSIC to make this an option, I'd greatly appreciate it. :)

    1. In response to your request, I have done some appropriate whip cracking and have assigned this task to a low-level, second-rate, junior flunky. I hope I did it right. Thanks.

  3. Thank-you. It appears it works properly. Perhaps a bonus is in order for the junior flunky. :)